But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads

IMAGINE IF there were a law decreeing that every citizen had to carry a tracking device and check it five times an hour. This device was to be kept at hand at all times. The law also decreed that you needed to place this device on your bedside table at night, so that it was never more than two feet away from your body, and if you happened to wake up in the middle of the night, then you needed to check it. You had to check it during mealtimes, at sporting events, while watching television. You even needed to sneak a quick peek at it during plays and weddings and funerals. For those unwilling to check their devices at the plays, weddings, and funerals, exceptions would be made—so long as you kept your device on right up until the moment the play, wedding, or funeral was beginning and then turned it on again the second the event was over, checking it as you walked down the aisle toward the exit. Imagine, too, that whenever you went to a concert you weren’t allowed to view the actual concert but instead had to view it through your device, as though every concert were a solar eclipse and you would go blind if you stared at the thing itself. Only if you were holding your device in front of your face and viewing the event on its small screen would you be allowed to experience heightened moments of artistry and life. Such a law would be deemed an insane Orwellian intrusion into our daily freedom, and people would rebel—especially when the law went even further. Imagine that the law decreed that it wasn’t enough to check your machines; you needed to update the world on your activities on not one but several services, posting text, pictures, and links to let everyone know everywhere you went, and everything you ate, and everyone you saw. And when you weren’t posting, the device would be tracking your movements and recording on distant servers where you were, whom you called, and what information you searched for. Of course, these laws aren’t necessary. We do this to ourselves. So we now have to come up with elaborate ways to stop ourselves from engaging in this behavior. There are the restaurant dinners during which everyone puts their devices into the middle of the table, and the first person to reach for hers or his gets stuck with the bill for the whole crowd. There are programs you can buy that allow you to set a timer that keeps you from checking email or using apps or searching the Web for a certain period of time. One of these, in a truly Orwellian turn of phrase, is called Freedom. […]

We also check them too much because we are addicted to them…

We check them because we feel the need…

We check them because we don’t want to miss out. On anything…

I find my little device incredibly seductive…

But I’m starting to believe that this is all madness and that we’re already in way over our heads…

After each one of those tiny dopamine bursts comes a tiny dopamine hangover, a little bit of melancholy as the brain realizes that the thing we crave—to connect—hasn’t really happened at all. It’s like the feeling you get when you anticipate ordering something you love at a restaurant, and do so, and then are told that they just served the last one, and you will need to order something else. A little lift—they have lemon meringue pie—followed by a little fall: not for you. Our technology gives us the simulacrum of a connection but not the real thing.

George Orwell correctly predicted much about our world today.

~ Will Schwalbe, from “1984. Disconnecting.” in Books for a Living


Notes:

Comments

  1. That is already happening

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep way over our heads….🙄🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. so scary and so real.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. His prescience is as scary as the reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pretty scary….yet very possible

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve talked to so many people who say, “I left my phone at home for___ and it felt so free.” I notice the same thing. When I go on a hike or work in the garden I purposefully leave it, and feel an immense sense of peace.
    Great post: thoughtful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on A Simple, Village Undertaker and commented:
    Stop the madness. Those of us with addictive personaities, take note.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. How very true!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pretty crazy but so true!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Im gonna get my daughter to read this. Sadly so true .

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, for a simpler time when a child’s imagination found more value not in a toy, but in the box that it came in.
    -Alan

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Most parents wish for a simpler time. I used to talk about how much better things were when our phones were landlines and we could leave them behind when we went out. I’m writing this from my phone. I’ve adapted without giving in. But I’m not allowing myself to be sucked under by anti-social media. Eve Orwell hadn’t anticipated that. The influence it has creeps me out.
    We can’t expect our children to live in our good old days. But we can take time out from our busy lives to interest them in other things as well while we still have some influence.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Very true, I get criticized all the time from friends and family because I do no have internet on my phone. I can make a phone call or send a text and I can look around and take in the scenery and events that are taking place around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. At first I found it very amusing…so true for many I’ve observed (college students, young single people. I assume that Schwalbe wrote this…? brilliant, funny, horrifying, accurate!!
    I forwarded it to several different types of people. One of the responses stunned me–from a man in his 80’s (retired from the financial world but he googled you) who did not get the satire (can’t italicize), who said that you (Kanigan) should alert us to what Elon Musk has to say about AI, and blah-blah etc…. We’re in a great books discussion group where we read 1984 several months ago, so he took off from there. Another friend teaches in NY at CUNY, and says that perfectly describes his students. Is there a way I could send more to you without boring this whole group?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love the bit about all phones in the middle of the table–first one to succumb gets the bill.

    I forget my phone at home a lot. Amazing how that irritates others.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. …have to share the response from my wonderful granddaughter (age 18, just starting college)…just the kind of answer I wouldn’t dare hope for….

    Cool article.. it’s a pretty good analogy. I think I’m a lot less obsessed with my phone compared to my friends, and I could live without it, but it definitely takes up a good portion of my time. This is a good reminder to lay off it a little. It’s also very hard to do that though, especially being in college and constantly having things to do, places to be, staying busy. Thanks for sharing though, I’ll try and put my phone down a little more often.

    Love,

    Liked by 2 people

  17. How frightening! I don’t own one of those phones, so I haven’t been addicted to that particular practice. However, I am on the alert all the time for people texting while they’re driving or walking and ready to duck.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m guilty of trying to capture the moment and addicted to seeing if anyone read my blog post and commented. I definitely Instagram and Facebook and freak out when I leave my phone at home. How bad is that?
    However, I keep my phone on me at work solely to count my steps. I bring my phone with me when I hike solely to take pictures (smaller to carry than my camera – though I often have both – how dumb is that?). Still…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Everything about this scares the crap out of me…most of all the fact that it’s come to pass. How do we find our way back? How do we strike that balance between convenience and connection without falling off the cliff into ‘electronic servitude?’…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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